New Board Chair Friscia demonstrates inclusive leadership

Above, recently selected Chair of the Board of Trustees Anthony Friscia enjoys the newly renovated ACDC. He looks forward to meeting more students and faculty when he’s on campus! Courtesy of Anthony Friscia.

Vassar’s Board of Trustees, the group of 35 alumnae/i who manage the general affairs of the College, chose Anthony Friscia ’78 as its newest chair at its annual meeting in May. Friscia, an entrepreneur and education advocate, has served on the Board of Trustees since 2009.

From 2014 to 2016, Friscia served as the CEO of Eduventures, a research and consulting firm dedicated to higher education. Before then, he was a consultant and special advisor to the president at The New School in New York City, where he also served as acting Chief Operating Officer. In 1986, Friscia founded AMR Research, an information services and market analysis firm acquired Vassar’s Board of Trustees, the group of 35 alumnae/i who manage the general affairs of the College, chose Anthony Friscia ’78 as its newest chair at its annual meeting in May. Friscia, an entrepreneur and education advocate, has served on the Board of Trustees since 2009.

From 2014 to 2016, Friscia served as the CEO of Eduventures, a research and consulting firm dedicated to higher education. Before then, he was a consultant and special advisor to the president at The New School in New York City, where he also served as acting Chief Operating Officer. In 1986, Friscia founded AMR Research, an information services and market analysis firm acquired by Gartner, Inc., in 2010. His philanthropic work centers on the arts and education.

President of the College Elizabeth Bradley is particularly familiar with Friscia in his role on the Board as he co-chaired the presidential search committee that resulted in her hiring. In an email interview, Bradley highlighted how Friscia’s personal connection with the school made him the best candidate for this role, stating, “The Board was thrilled to have him in this leadership role, after all his years of experience on the Board and in many roles on the Board. He himself was a first-generation student at Vassar and has had a diverse professional career—starting his own successful company—and his own children are close to college age, so he understands the campus from multiple perspectives.”

Bradley also discussed Friscia’s ability to represent the Vassar spirit: “He demonstrates inclusive leadership. He is committed to hearing all voices and creating an environment that is open to new ideas, supportive of the College and constantly learning.” Finally, Bradley, when asked about Friscia’s best quality as a leader and member of the Board, commented, “He cares deeply about Vassar, listens carefully and is excited about being a positive force in the governance of the College.”

Aside from Friscia’s personal connection with the school, his colleagues praised his personification of the Vassar ethos. As Professor of Film Mia Mask, who served on the presidential search board Friscia co-chaired in 2016, stated, “Tony is a genuinely warm person. He is the kind of person you like and want to get to know and want to spend time with.” In addition, Mask highlighted Friscia’s sense of humor as a quality that will serve him well as chair as a way to diffuse tense moments.

VP for Communications Amanita Duga-Carroll also expressed what she thinks Friscia will bring to his newly elected role. As she expressed, “I have only just started working with Tony Friscia, but two things strike me about him: One, he is passionate about Vassar; and two, he brings…a collaborative, inclusive leadership style, one that bodes well for the future.”

The Miscellany News conducted an email interview with Friscia about his goals as a leader and what he envisions for Vassar’s future.

The Miscellany News: What are your main goals as Chair of the Board of Trustees?

Anthony Friscia: The board’s role is to focus on the long term and support President Bradley and the college’s senior leadership in achieving a bold vision. My goals as Chair are to create an environment where the Board becomes more familiar with the current challenges and aspirations of the campus…I believe the Board can learn a lot from our current students if we keep the lines of communication open. We also need to look beyond our campus to strengthen our presence in Poughkeepsie and the broader Dutchess County.

The Misc: What contribution to the Board of Trustees have you made in the past that you are most proud of?

AF: I’ve been fortunate to have had many rewarding roles on the board. The most rewarding of all was being co-chair (with Gerry Laybourne [’69]) of the Presidential Search Committee that hired President Bradley. Every member of the committee was confident that she was the right person to lead Vassar forward. It’s been gratifying for all of us to see her exceed our high expectations. Beyond the selection of President Bradley, working with the committee was an incredible experience. Beyond getting to know my fellow trustees better, I became friends with the five faculty members and two students who served on the committee. I learned a lot about the importance of building relationships on campus. I’m very proud of the fact that though our committee started as three groups: trustees, faculty, and students, we finished as a group of peers who respected one another.

The Misc: What is something that you would like to change at Vassar?

AF: I believe the college has been moving in the right direction and while we sometimes face challenges, we are addressing them head on. I would like to see the community come together to support the liberal arts more broadly, and I would like to see us think strategically together to set priorities to ensure the future for Vassar in its community.

The Misc: What do you think characterizes the spirit of Vassar, and how do your plans as Chair of the Board of Trustees overlap with this?

AF: When Matthew Vassar started our college he used words like bold and innovative. I believe that’s the spirit that continues to characterize us. We were the first college to offer women the same high quality education that was only available to men; we became a coed institution successfully without sacrificing our core traditions; we have been a leader in the last decade in attracting a more diverse student body; and President Bradley’s commitment to engaged pluralism will help us make our community more inclusive and strengthen us. As Chair, I’m committed to working with the Board to maintain this spirit of inclusiveness and innovation as we look into the future.

Ultimately, Friscia aspires to build a closer connection between the Board and the students and faculty on the campus. When asked if there was anything he would like to add to the interview, Friscia simply stated, “The only thing I’d add is that I look forward to meeting more of you when I’m on campus.”

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